On Yom Kippur 5734 (1973), when planes flew overhead and there were rumors of an impending war on two fronts, we came home from synagogue and listened to the only station that was broadcasting on Yom Kippur – Abie Natan’s ‘Voice of Peace.’
Natan’s message on that Yom Kippur day: ‘Soldiers must refuse [their commanders’] orders, and must not fight. Instead, they should extend a peaceful hand to the attacking Egyptian and Syrian armies.'”
Throughout that day, Nathan played the song ALL WE ARE SAYING IS GIVE PEACE A CHANCE, and urged soldiers of the traumatized nation of Israel not to fight back, pleading, over and over, “Throw down your guns. Do not fight back. Hug the oncoming Egyptian and Syrian Troops” was the theme that Nathan played all day, on that long Yom Kippur, and in those difficult days that followed.
The story received confirmation from The Voice of Peace History, as found in Jim Parkes’ “History of Offshore Radio” (http://www.geocities.com/Broadway/5383/vophisto.html), which writes: “During the October war the [Voice of Peace] ship moved to the Suez Canal. While the soldiers listened to the station, they only laughed at requests to lay down their arms.”
A few days into the Yom Kippur War, Israeli intelligence closed down Nathan’s transmitter, which operated from the Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv, owned and operated by Israel hotel magnate Yekutiel X. Federman.
Abie Nathan, whose voice was silenced by a stroke for the past ten years, will be remembered as the first Israeli to give legitimacy to justify those Israelis who simply did not want to defend the Jewish state in a time of war.
On August 2, 1995, Dr. Aaron Lerner, the director of IMRA, (Independent Media Review & Analysis) asked Nathan about his broadcasts during the Yom Kippur war.
IMRA: Did you ever get any flack from people who remember that you called for soldiers to put down their arms at the start of the Yom Kippur War?
Nathan: “We asked for people on both sides to put down their weapons and many people still remember it. I know many Egyptians who tell me that they heard the broadcast. I was broadcasting off of Port Said. We had just started broadcasting on the ship. It was on Yom Kippur and all the [Israeli – IMRA] radio stations were silent. Since I was off of Port Said I was really among the first to know that the war had started.
“No one thought there was anything wrong with calling for the soldiers not to fight. If the soldiers on both sides had only listened to me it would have left the war for the generals to fight.”
Yet as Dr. Lerner noted, “He wasn’t broadcasting in Arabic. It was in English. And while some Egyptians may have heard him, his audience was overwhelmingly Israeli”.